Wait! What Happened to Recess? : Read Along Section 5 – What If Everybody Understood Child Development?

recess

The mystery of the disappearing recess, is not an uncommon topic of discussion in elementary education.  The majority of adults remember a morning recess, a lunch recess, and an afternoon recess.  I think most Americans would hazard a guess and say that there is probably less time devoted to recess today than in years gone by.

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Are Parents Unable to Just Say “No” These Days?

Say no

Maybe you’ve noticed the latest trend in the running commentary on parenting.  “Parents today are too soft.  They’re raising spoiled kids who’ve never heard the word “NO”.  Parents need to show their kids who’s in control here.”

While I’m sure you could find plenty of examples to validate each perspective, I tend to wince a bit whenever I hear these tendencies to frame parenting in the extremes.  Take in enough of these stories and it would seem that as a parent, you have two choices.  You can either be a spineless push-over or a heavy-handed dictator.  But the truth of the matter is that we know from research that the majority of kids thrive in that sweet spot in between. Continue reading

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It’s OK to Go UP the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids

child

“Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers.”– M. Scott Peck

Can you relate to that?  To coming up against a feeling that accepting the status quo just might not work any longer?  That some of the “should’s” and “have-to’s” are rooted in misconceptions and “that’s-just-the-way-we’ve-always-done-it”?

Peck’s words form one of the guiding quotes in Heather Shumaker’s newest book,It’s OK to Go Up the Slide: Renegade Rules for Raising Confident and Creative Kids (*affiliate link), and explain her drive to question everything in order to give kids what they really need, rather than what we’ve simply assumed they should accept. Continue reading

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Trouble Sitting Still: Read Along Section 4 — What If Everybody Understood Child Development?

move

It was years ago that I read the passage, but it is one of the first that comes back to me as I consider the importance of recognizing that the work of the mind and the work of the body are inextricably linked.

I was reading William Crain’s book, Theories of Development when the term seemed to jump right off of the page.  “The disembodied mind”.  It seemed so visceral.  Suddenly, I imagined a brain, isolated from the body like a spare part in a mad scientist’s workshop.  The term’s use was aimed at the danger of overusing technology to teach our youngest learners, but struck truly on the broader approach to teaching and learning.  Crain wrote this:

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Speak Up! How to Make Conversation A Powerful Part of Your Child’s Day

dad and baby

In my most recent post, I wrote about how powerful words are in a young child’s development.  As I mentioned then, it’s been said that sometimes we’re in such a hurry to give kids the things we never had, that we forget to give them the things we did have.  Meaningful conversation may rank high on that list of simple, yet powerful things we take for granted.

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Speak Up! How Words Can Make a Big Difference for Little Kids

let's talk

The 30 million word gap has become somewhat legendary.  But in case you missed the recurrent rumbling, here’s the quick rundown.  Back in 1995, researchers Betty Hart and Todd Risley recorded hours and hours of interactions between parents and children.  What they found was startling.  By age three, the average child from a family in the professional class heard 30 million more words than did the average child living on welfare.  What was perhaps most striking about this research was their finding that there was a tight link between the number of words a child heard and their future academic success.  This link was so strong that it appears to exist even when other factors, including socioeconomic factors, were controlled for.  In essence, they asserted that closing that word gap could close the achievement gap between the social classes.

Subsequent studies have found that it isn’t just the quantity of words, but the quality of conversation that makes such a big difference for kids. Continue reading

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Let Them Be Little: Read Along Section 3 – What if Everybody Understood Child Development?

glasses

Until about the mid 1700s, childhood wasn’t recognized as part of the lifespan.  Children were viewed as miniature adults.  The same rules, expectations, and responsibilities were applied equally to children and adults.  (Hence, the child kings, child brides, child laborers, etc.)  No one considered that children might have different needs, different ways of thinking, or different capacities.  The shift in perspective that allowed adults to consider children and childhood to be unique was one of the great advances of the 18th century

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Before They Write: Fine Motor Foundation

love-heart-hand-romantic-large

“Way before we put a pencil in a child’s hand and ask him to write, we need to have a foundation of fine motor skills.

I could tell right away that while I thought I had said something simple, it was time to slow down and elaborate.

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